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“It is hard to imagine
anyone saying anything new about Abraham Lincoln, the most written-about figure
in American history. But Edward Achorn has done it. No one has ever placed
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in such a full and rich context as he has. Achorn
recreates the sights, sounds, smells, and the feel of everything, and his
Lincoln was never more real. This is the work of a superb imaginative
historian.” – this quote from Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of
Empire of Liberty about Providence Journal editor, Ed Achorn’s latest book,
EVERY DROP OF BLOOD, The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
a new perspective on the Civil War, Edward Achorn’s book breathes life into the
tense events surrounding Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
Brilliantly conceived and vividly drawn, Achorn pulls readers into Washington,
DC’s polarized inner circles, and into the personal anguish of Lincoln
himself—an unpopular, narrowly-elected President determined to end the war and
set a course toward healing the nation. Prominent figures and forces circulate
around Washington leading up to Lincoln’s second inaugural address, made all
the more compelling with the knowledge that within a month of delivering the
speech, he would be assassinated.
March 4, 1865, the Civil War had slaughtered more than 700,000 Americans and
left intractable wounds on the nation. After a morning of rain-drenched fury,
tens of thousands crowded Washington’s Capitol grounds that day to see Abraham
Lincoln take the oath for a second term. As the sun emerged, Lincoln rose to
give perhaps the greatest inaugural address in American history, stunning the
nation by arguing, in a brief 701 words, that both sides had been wrong, and
that the war’s unimaginable horrors—every drop of blood spilled—might well have
been God’s just verdict on the national sin of slavery.
Achorn reveals the nation’s capital on that momentous day—with its mud, sewage,
and saloons, its prostitutes, spies, reporters, social-climbing spouses and
power-hungry politicians—as a microcosm of all the opposing forces that had
driven the country apart. A host of characters, unknown and famous, had
converged on Washington—from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in
a Washington hospital and the embarrassingly drunk new vice president, Andrew
Johnson, to poet-journalist Walt Whitman; from soldiers’ advocate Clara Barton
and African American leader and Lincoln critic-turned-admirer Frederick
Douglass (who called the speech “a sacred effort”) to conflicted actor John
Wilkes Booth—all swirling around the complex figure of Lincoln.
indelible scenes, Achorn vividly captures the frenzy in the nation’s capital at
this crucial moment in America’s history and the tension-filled hope and
despair afflicting the country as a whole, soon to be heightened by Lincoln’s
assassination. His story offers new understanding of our great national crisis,
and echoes down the decades to resonate in our own time.
anyone in hyper-local Rhode Island who may follow Ed Achorn’s Facebook page,
you can sense his delight in the upcoming publication date. Pre-orders may be
made now, and we’re sure Ed will be on the signing circuit as well.
A few more reviews:
“Prize-worthy. Achorn is erudite and empathetic, and the book is chock-full of information and telling insights. Achorn sets the scene for the greatest inaugural address in American history.” —Frank J. Williams, founder of The Lincoln Forum and author of Judging Lincoln
“A magisterial analysis not only of
Lincoln’s second inaugural but of the context in which it was given. Achorn’s
keen eye for the meaningful detail reveals new layers of meaning to both a
familiar speech and the divided nation that received them. His gift for telling
a good story makes it a must read for historians and general readers alike.”—Maury
Klein, author of Days of Defiance and A Call to Arms
Edward Achorn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist
for Commentary and winner of the Yankee Quill Award, is the vice president and
editorial pages editor of The Providence Journal. He is the author of two
acclaimed books about nineteenth century baseball and American culture,
Fifty-nine in ’84 and The Summer of Beer and Whiskey. He lives in an 1840s
farmhouse in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
“The author provides
rich description of a wide cast of people, including politicians, poets,
soldiers, and nurses . . . Achorn is especially insightful in setting the scene
for the inaugural, going deep inside the social world of the capital and
remarking on the constant positioning for favor or notice . . . A solid history
that will allow readers to feel as if they are in the moment.”—Library
“This richly detailed account of the events surrounding Lincoln’s second inaugural address focuses on the many notable and obscure personalities present in Washington as the Civil War neared its end, including such opposites as Frederick Douglass and John Wilkes Booth, whose lives intersected with Lincoln’s in dramatically contrasting ways.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom